Transport Watch UK Focusing on UK's Traffic & Traffic Systems

June 2004 - Helen Nugnet in the Times.........

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"Helen Nugent reports in The Times of 26th June; "The train arriving late cost you billions" - subsidy per journey raising by 50% from 5.3 pence to 8 pence per passenger-mile.

We comment the actual subsidy over 10 years may top £100 billion. In any event the SRA confirmed to us in October 2003 that the wish list was as follows:

Channel Tunnel High Speed link £5.2 billion (committed)
Modernisation ranging up to: £73 billion
East Coast High Speed line: £36 billion over 40 years
Cross rail linking Paddington with Liverpool Street in principle part of the National Rail Network but possibly shared by the "Underground" £10-15 billion.
Operating subsidy, at £1.7 billion per year adds: £17 billion over 10 years
TOTAL £116-120 billion

None of that will be covered by the fare box. Hence a likely subsidy per year is circa £10 billion. There were 25 bn passenger-miles in 2002. Hence the subsidy may amount to 40 pence per passenger-mile, 5 times the published number. "Big bonus for failing rail bosses":


The Daily Telegraph of 3rd June provided the following under the above heading:

  Salary Bonus
John Armitt Chief Exec. 468,000 112,320
Ian Couder, Deputy 416,000 98,840
Ron Henderson, Finance director,
Chris Lea, Safety,
Peter Hendson, Engineering
312,000 75,000 each

The Times of 1st July reports six-figure extra bonuses for directors. - public members of Network Rail are to be asked to approve a second bonus that would award the five directors a share in £500,000 in 2007 on top of current awards. The payout is to depend on the number of trains arriving "on time" and a cost reduction of 20%.

Transport-Watch comments - these men are among those responsible for misleading the Government on a mammoth scale. E.g. they are content to see the railway safety myth propagated by statements such as "every day more people die on the roads than in a year on the railways" - a statement that ignores usage and thereby exaggerating the relative safety of Rail by nearly 2000%. The same applies to most operating and cost vectors. That is why the nation is prepared to see perhaps £100 billion spent on a system that is worthless in the market place. Meanwhile, given the rights of way, the national rail function could be carried out by express coaches and lorries at one quarter the cost of the steel tyred option - offering all London rail commuters seats, at a fraction the fares charged by rail, cutting fuel consumption by 20-25 % and casualty costs by a factor of at least two.

The motorist (See also our new summary web page to do with speed cameras etc).

There have been a number of articles reporting more restrictions and penalties on the motorist.

The Times of 3rd June and many others reported the prosecution of a 71 year old pensioner for warning motorist of a speed trap set up on the approaches to a car boot sale. The Times on 17th reports the intention to have cameras catch drives who stray into cycle lanes and on 18th to trap those who block yellow junction boxes and make illegal U-turns - proposals critised by the RAC foundation .

The general tone of the press is that these measures amount to an unreasonable persecution of the motorist. E.g. 3rd June in the Telegraph Stephen Robinson had "had enough of being told what he can do with his car", concluding that "the Government hates private car ownership for the precisely the reason million will not give it up. A car gives us freedom….."

Despite that there is no evidence that the Government will change its approach. On the contrary there are reports that that there is to be a national database of speed limits with the long-term objective of fitting cars with speed limiters - forcing compliance.

Transport Watch comments - all limits are far too high or far too low in that the safe speed will depend on traffic conditions which vary throughout the day. Hence the 20 mph limits proposed for areas close to schools will be stupidly low for 90% of the time while often achieving little when children are milling about since motorists automatically reduce their speeds in deference to such conditions.

Our view is that these measures, along with the current junction layouts, are responsible for substantial delay and driver stress across the nation. That, we believe, is causing real damage to the economy. The problem is that the safety lobby has got out of hand, not only in the field of road transport but across the economy as a whole. Consequently ordinary activity is being brought to a standstill to the loss of all of us. (These days a risk assessment must be carried out before a nursery takes a child to a park or before a secondary school teacher dares to take a class to a museum, let alone give a child a lift). The Transport sector where the car-hate lobby has, in our view, gained undue influence, is suffering particularly under this head.

Speed Cameras

The Government published that there had been a reduction of 40% in KSI at the 2300 camera sites monitored, saving 4030 personal injury collisions, over 100 deaths and over 870 KSI's.

However, overall deaths on the roads rose by 77 made up as follows: Pedestrians down 1, Cyclists down 16, Motorcycles up 84, Car users up 22, Bus and coach deaths down 8, Goods vehicles deaths down 17, other vehicle deaths up 13.

We comment - that is a very poor showing bearing in mind the added effect of many thousands of speed humps and junction amendments. Possibly the camera campaign has lead to a general loss of attention to the road ahead in favour of the speedometer so eroding the benefit at the camera sites. In any event the savings at the sites may well have been achievable by other means, avoiding the prosecution of 1.5 million drivers and the loss of licence of 30,000 most of whom may have been driving without incident for years.

4th Annual Conference of the Institute of Economic Affairs 15th-16th June

Tom Winsor, the retiring Rail Regulator said he found it " tedious that so much of the debate on the industry proceeds on the basis of imaginary facts". During the discussion Transport-Watch pointed out that nearly all the comparisons with road made by the railway lobby have no basis.

In particular the railway lobby exaggerates the relative safety of rail by nearly 2000% by ignoring usage. Tom Winsor did not deny that. On the contrary he appeared to concede that express coach has the lower passenger death rate by a substantial margin and that, system-wide, including Trespassers but not suicides, the death rate by rail is double that on the motorway network. Mr Winsor went on to say that the railways were very safe.

Fuel consumption

Telegraph of 21st June headlines "Inter City Trains less fuel-efficient than cars"; reference a study by Professor Roger Kemp of Lancaster University. The Telegraph reports the study as showing that, per seat, intercity trains use slightly more fuel than cars and that the car's superiority rises rapidly compared with trains travelling at up to 215 kph. The Telegraph report goes on to say that French style rolling stock would require twice as much fuel per seat as a Volkswagen Passat and more than a short haul aircraft. Roger Ford of Modern Railways is reported as saying "I know this will generate howl of protest but a family of four going by car is about as environmentally friendly as you can get". In response Tony Bosworth of Friends of Earth expressed surprise…. and went on to say that "cars cause congestion, disrupt communities and are less safe than trains"

The leader following the article concludes that "The Enviromentalist lobby, traditionally as rigid in thinking as Victorian missionaries, will have to come up with some new slogans", suggesting "Save the planet, jump into your car".

We comment - our data shows that system-wide Network Rail returned the equivalent of 115 passenger-miles per gallon of diesel in 2002/3, similar to a diesel powered car containing 2 people. As to Tony Bosworth, we refer him to our casualty data quoted above and at fact sheets 3 and 4 within this web site (both subject to updates). Our experience of attempting discussion with the Greens has been unrewarding with never a flicker that any of them would consider the facts if ever the facts denied preconceived ideas.

Journal of Economic affairs Volume 2 June 2004

Article by Transport-Watch director Paul Withrington with the title Reigniting the Railway Conversion Debate. Article available here

Snippets from Local Transport Today -

More from 20th May

  1. Bedford drop opposition to the Luton to Dunstable guided bus proposal costing £84.4. million. Transport-Watch comments: By making the link a guided bus way its use will be restricted to specially equipped buses. If it were a road it would be used by all buses plus commercial vehicles and still be used to perhaps only one tenth of its capacity. So why not make it a road - a standard 7.3 metre carriageway with no verges unless justified on economic grunds. (Contacts Luton Libdem leader, David Franks, Bedfordshire : Richard Payne)

3rd June

  1. Croydon Tramlink study fails to find evidence of increased property values attributable to the trams.
  2. DfT to extend the evaluation period to 60 years and reduce the value of leisure time while changing the discount rate to 3.5% believed linked to the requirement to inflate cost estimates to take account of optimism bias.
  3. Phil Goodwin asks - do the railways need a new Brunel or a Beeching. We comment - it is vital that the rail rights of way should not be lost as transport routes when lines are closed. Instead most should be converted to motor roads providing relieve for the historic road network.

17th June

  1. Significant article by Andrew Foster "Is the media misleading the public about the severity of transport Problems?" reporting a study by professor Peter Boswell and Jo Beale finding most people think there are problems for other people that they do not suffer themselves.
  2. Edinburgh Tram system may be funded from increased land values: Bristol keeps open option to revive light rail ambitions: French politics system more suited to delivenig successful light rail schemes according to the Passenger Transport Executive Group.
  3. Significant article by Rik Thomas reporting Richard Brunstrom's views on speed cameras.

Snippets from Transit -

  1. 14TH May: Stagecoach buys 10 double deckers for 1.2 million for its Cheltenham to Gloucester route. Transport-Watch comments the £120,000 per vehicle may be compared with the £1 million required for a railway carriage.
  2. 28th May: Stagecoach's Megabus network close to profit: National Express announces an extension of its £1 'Funfare' promotions - serving 19 destinations from London: Stagecoach to buy 25 double decker 13.5 m Neoplan coaches for its high frequency Oxford to London Service. Transport-watch here comments - Pity the rail right of way is not available to these vehicles. If it were the journey time would match the train and former rail commuters would benefit from dramatic fare reductions. Simultaneously lorries would transfer to the facility so at last transferring significant freight from the historic road system.
  3. 11th June: Midland Main Line's Meridians cost of £160 million for 16 four car plus 7 nine car 125 mph trains providing £1.27 million per car. A four car set has 176 seats i.e. 44 per carriage. Hence the cost per seat is £28,600.
  4. 11th June: David Beg, reports trams as having a higher capacity than buses. We ask, Is he unaware that the single bus lane serving the New York bus terminal carries 700 45-seat buses per hour - providing a seated capacity of 30,000? Readers may care to note that the 30,000 match the peak hour flow into Victoria Main Line but at Victoria the passengers are in crushed conditions while the trains require four tracks rather than one. If the buses were double deckers the seated capacity would be in excess of 50,000 per lane per hour. We comment, there is no rail or tram system the world that can come anywhere near that. Of course a tram or a bus on a city street is another matter. However, given uncongested conditions, the bus would outperform the tram in all vectors except the photogenic by factors typically in the range 2 to 4.
  5. 25th June - contains little to snip - articles on Gatwick Express making a loss and on real time info for buses.


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